PCI Compliance: How to Achieve It
New technology and advances in payment technology are making it easier for business owners to complete transactions — and making it harder to keep customer credit card information secure. If you accept credit cards, payment safety and security is something you owe your customers.
PCI compliance regulations help ensure that business owners are taking the correct steps to protect customer data. The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard, or PCI, is a standard established by the five largest credit card companies to protect customers and credit card companies from costly data breaches. Follow these three strategies for bringing your business into PCI compliance.
1. Understand How Customer Information is Stored
First, be aware of what kinds of customer information needs to be securely protected. This includes sensitive financial data such as credit card numbers, along with any identifiable information that could be linked to an individual customer. This includes names, addresses, and credit card expiration dates and security codes.
You also need to understand where this sensitive data is stored. What happens to customer information once it is passed from the customers themselves and into your business’ hands? Know how the information moves from system to system in your business, whether for data processing, storage, or transmission, and take steps to make sure it remains protected along this route. Keep track of all the ways that customer data is collected, including within an office setting, on your website, or at a retail location.
2. Don’t Store Data
One of the best ways to reach PCI compliance is simply not to store sensitive data in the first place. Take a look back at the systems and methods your business uses to collect and move customer data, and at each point decide if you really actually need that information stored long-term or not. If possible, let go of sensitive data as soon as customers have been charged.
If you decide that there is some need to hang on to sensitive information about your customers, consider who has access to these details. Make sure it is limited only to the employees who must have access to it to do their jobs — and do your best to hire trustworthy people to these positions. Educate these employees on data protection and security practices, and give each employee unique and secure credentials to sign into the system.
3. Secure Computer Systems
Reach and maintain PCI compliance by installing firewalls on all workplace computers. If you run a small business and keep customer records on your personal computer or laptop at home, take steps to secure those as well. A truly secure computer system employs multiple layers of protection, including passwords and restricted access, with a firewall as the last line of defense in protecting sensitive information from being hacked through your internet connection. Make sure your firewall is updated and tested regularly.
There are many additional cybersecurity practices you should make standard at your business. These include keeping devices password-protected and encrypted, with strong passwords — both uppercase and lowercase letters with numbers and symbols — that are changed every three months. Never give contractors access to these passwords — or really anyone who doesn’t have a legitimate need within your company. Keep your point of sale devices and software updated.
PCI Compliance: Merchant One Can Help
PCI compliance can seem overwhelming and difficult to achieve, on top of everything else you need to take care of as a small business owner. It can be costly too, with monthly fees of up $60 per month or more for a small business, and $1000 or more as you grow. Nail down these strategies above to bring your business into compliance. To help business owners understand the PCI compliance process and these fees, Merchant One offers services to business owners that enable them to reach compliance.
To learn how Merchant One can help your business reach full PCI compliance, request more information from Merchant One today.